A new study led by The Wildlife Trusts finds that time spent in nature can benefit children in a number of ways.
The conservation charity commissioned the Institute of Education at University College London (UCL) to undertake the research, which focused on over 450 primary school children and the effects of Wildlife Trust-led activities on their wellbeing.
The outdoor activities involved children learning about nature, such as how to identify trees and plants, and considering the needs of wildlife habitats and their importance to the world at large.
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The study was one of the largest of its kind into the effects outdoor activities have on the wellbeing of children and their views about nature, with 451 children aged mainly between 8 and 9 years old taking part.
The children completed surveys before and after they participated in the outdoor experiences. After connecting with nature during the activities, children demonstrated high levels of enjoyment, and showed an increase in their personal wellbeing and health over time, in addition to an increase in nature connection — The Wildlife Trusts describes nature connection as the level at which a person considers nature to be a part of their identity, including a love of nature and feelings of care and concern for the environment.
The benefits of spending time connecting to nature weren’t just emotional, but were found to positively affect the children’s education. An overwhelming majority of children reported that they felt their experience could help their school work, and made them feel more confident. Most also agreed that they had better relationships with their teachers and classmates.
In light of their findings, The Wildlife Trusts believe every child should be able to access nature on a daily basis in order to experience the benefits this brings.
“The Wildlife Trusts believe everyone should have the opportunity to experience the joy of wildlife in daily life, and we’re calling on government to recognise the multiple benefits of nature for children — and ensure that at least one hour per school day is spent outdoors learning and playing in wild places,” said The Wildlife Trust’s Director of Strategy Nigel Doar.